From day two, at my new job, I was thrown right into a pitch. It has been a crazy week but it led me to some insights about what it is that makes a successful presentation; It’s about more than simply having a beautiful deck and knowing what you are going to say and when. It’s about making sure the audience is involved.

Without further ado,

9 Tricks for a Bright Presentation

Make sure everything makes sense- on its own
Nothing in your presentation should require so much context that someone can’t understand something if they sneezed while you spoke.

Own your body language.
Practice your presentation standing. That way, when you actually give your presentation you know what to do with your hands. Think of this as state dependent memory for your body.

Keep critical people around
Constructive criticism, in my opinion, is the single biggest contributor to a successful pitch. Any idea or thought you have makes sense to you, but maybe it is unclear to an outside audience. Practice your presentation with someone who isn’t afraid to tell you that something needs to get cut or expanded on.

Open dialogue.
This was the first presentation that I have worked on where we encouraged the people sitting in on it, to pause the pitch and ask questions. It allowed us to expand on ideas, in really interesting ways, that simply wasn’t possible without the leading questions getting asked by the client.

Spend a few days reorganizing
Don’t be afraid to shift a section to another part of the deck an hour before the presentation. Sometimes, your outline for how the presentation should live doesn’t hold after you add additional content.

Print it off to practice
Have your whole deck on the wall and give your talk. It might lead you to new insights or tidbits that can live between slides. It might also show you how some parts of your presentation could may be too repetitive.

Be a fireball
This might not be a part of everyone’s personality but that shouldn’t stop you. Find something in your presentation that you get excited about and own that energy. Use the earlier part to build up to it, and keep that energy moving throughout. An audience will feel your passion and will mirror it back in participation and by paying attention.

Ask yourself “Why is this in here? Why would I say that?”
It’s important that you look at everything with a critical eye. If something doesn’t inform or delight you should nix it. When you are presenting you aren’t just using your time, you are using everyone else’s too.

Tie what you are doing back to the audience.
Your audience is full of people, and people love a little bit of personal attention. Give it to them, involve them and they will stay intrigued and be more open to your ideas.

The single most important thing is
Repeat some things.

Choose what is REALLY important in your presentation. People are only going to remember a few things, even from a really powerful presentation. So choose a few things that you really want to stick and stay on that topic.